Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have corroborated chilling accounts of torture in Egyptian prisons. The independent daily Eldestour recently published two important facts: that the annual budget for internal security was $1.5 billion in 2006, more than the entire national budget for health care, and that the security police forces comprise 1.4 million officers, nearly four times the size of the Egyptian army. "Egypt has become a police state par excellence," the paper’s editor noted.
Yet in Egypt, the regime remains strong and is quick to silence critics. Recently it focused its attacks on the work of democracy activists and researchers at the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, which I founded nearly two decades ago. Nine members of the ruling party have filed legal requests to close the center. They want to see me and other staff members prosecuted, alleging that we have tarnished the country’s image abroad, shown contempt for religion, undermined the national interest and committed high treason.
Between 2000 and 2003, the center’s offices were ransacked by the State Security Agency, and 27 employees were jailed. It took three years, multiple trials and three tours in prison — where my health deteriorated — before Egypt’s Court of Cassation, the country’s sole remaining independent court, acquitted us of all charges. The egregious nature of the case led the court to rebuke those responsible, citing abuses emanating from the presidency.
Lo curioso es que todo ello ocurre con la anuencia USA, más interesada en hacer "realpolitik" -contención en Gaza- que en democratizar Egipto (y lo siento, soy de los que creen que la idea de democratizar la zona era muy buena):
Yet Mubarak’s regime has gone unchecked for years, since long before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the "war on terror" and despite the billions of dollars in foreign aid the United States continues to give Egypt each year. The question is: Why?
Part of the answer lies in Mubarak’s skillful use of Egypt’s role in the Arab-Israeli peace process. Despite Egypt’s proximity to Gaza and its potential to contribute, the regime has not advanced the status quo far beyond what the late president Anwar Sadat accomplished. Mubarak boasts about his refusal to visit Israel, while his predecessor broke ground as the first Arab leader to visit Israel.
Another reason for U.S. silence is Mubarak’s exploitation of Islamophobia, rampant in many Western circles…